Monday, June 1, 2009

Success! (I hope)

I had the pleasure of speaking with a representative from Frigidaire today and got the news I was hoping for. Frigidaire will completely "refund" our dishwasher by sending Best Buy (where I bought it) a voucher for a dishwasher replacement.

So, I call up Best Buy and was told that our voucher has not hit Best Buy's system yet. Once it does, I can then go in and decide which model to choose from. I was told that Best Buy's policy is to replace the appliance with one that offers the most similar features for the price paid, however more and more people are having warranty issues and are demanding that if they have a store credit, then they should be able to choose whatever model of the appliance they'd want - and if it costs more than the replacement, then they'll pay the difference. Store manager mentioned that they'll be flexible with the in-store credit as long as a dishwasher of some sort is purchased. Could take upwards of a week for the voucher to be read in Best Buy's system.

So now I wait...patiently. Choices choices - what dishwasher to choose as a replacement?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Design Flaw

So my Frigidaire FDBB4365FC3 dishwasher has a design flaw.

With the water seals in the dishwasher working correctly to prevent leaks, steam generated in the wash cycle has to try to force its way out of surprisingly small vents in the door.

These vents are usually obscured by adjacent cabinet doors in most kitchen setups and are not able to get the steam away safely. This can result in steam damage or damage to the circuitry inside the dishwasher door.

The leaks I experienced with the dishwasher were a known issue to Frigidaire/Electrolux and I am sure that from the many calls they have received on circuit board issues they are not oblivious to this design flaw. But they are not doing anything about it proactively for the people out there who already purchased a dishwasher.

After realizing that my current model is flawed I started looking at other dishwashers in local stores and realized that most dishwashers vent out of the front of the unit. Some of the more stylish ones force steam out of the bottom of the door. A number of models from Frigidaire and Kitchen Aid vent out of the sides of the doors and are likely to run you into the same problems I had.

As far as I can tell the following models are affected:


If the model isn't listed above, that doesn't mean you are not going to experience problems with your dishwasher - Frigidaire does not seem to know how to make quality dishwasher products and seem to build their business model around getting you through your first year of warranty into the part where it becomes easier to just go out and buy a new one.

So in short, if you are looking at buying a dishwasher do yourself a favor and do the following:
  1. Check out Consumer Reports reliability survey (Aug 2007). Frigidaire is by no means the worst, but there are plenty of good options out there. It's not like there are no good $600 dishwashers to buy.
  2. Search extensively for the dishwasher you are planning to buy. Read reviews. Look at reviews on other models because the dishwasher companies keep changing their model numbers.
  3. Try and find a store that has the dishwasher to look at and review it with a critical eye. How does it vent? How sturdy does it feel?
  4. Save yourself some time and just avoid Frigidaire for dishwashers altogether.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Circuitry failure!

About week ago I came to the dishwasher expecting it to be complete with a wash and saw that it was flashing: ER Clean S Washing Drying

The manual was quite adamant that such an error message meant "Call Frigidaire now". It was a holiday weekend, so I had to wait until Tuesday morning. I did some searching online and found this webpage that suggested that the error was related to steam damage to the main circuit board.

When the service people came on Wednesday (Impressive turnaround) they told me:
  1. Not only was the circuit board bad but so was the touch panel.
  2. Steam probably was the issue.
  3. They would need to order parts
  4. I was out of luck in getting the machine to work until the parts come in.
Not surprisingly, upon hearing that I had $250 in parts needed for a $500 dishwasher that has already had $30 in parts replaced (not including all the service fees), I called back Frigidaire to ask about getting a replacement.

They told me that I need to have one of the following:
  1. Three major failures.
  2. The service people determine that repairs are not cost effective (that's the one I'm shooting for)
We're 8 weeks away from the end of our warranty, so naturally I am a little concerned. After pushing them they decided to consider it to be replaced. I find out tomorrow whether Frigidaire decided to "lemon" my dishwasher.

In the meantime while I wait for their verdict, in the next post I'll expand on this post and explain why potential Frigidaire dishwasher buyers should beware.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Steam Problems

So if you are reading my Frigidaire dishwasher blog entries in order, you know that I purchased a Frigidaire FDBB4365FC3 dishwasher which experienced leaks and eventually died.

After two service visits to replace gaskets that caused the leaks, the problems appeared to die down with the dishwasher. I say "appeared to" because in hindsight some of the new problems we experienced should have served as a warning about a serious design flaw, which I'll explain briefly below.

After the gaskets and leaks had been repaired, we noticed that steam was more prone to escaping out of the top of the dishwasher. By design it is supposed to come out of tiny vents on the side of the door (See attached picture). Unfortunately, like many kitchens, the dishwasher door is flush with adjacent cabinets, so the vents have very little room to do their job.

Steam started to affect the underneath of our (admittedly cheap) kitchen counter. The counter blistered because of the steam - something that it had never done during the previous 15 years with the original dishwasher.

We decided to be careful to allow the dishwasher to cool before opening the door (mistakenly thinking steam was escaping when the door was opened) and thought nothing of it until May 2009.

Monday, May 25, 2009


As I mentioned in previous posts, we purchased a Frigidaire FDBB4365FC3 dishwasher from Best Buy in July 2008 and just determined it has a design flaw.

But in November 2008 when we started having leaks from the door, we had no clue what we were in store for over the next 6 months.

One morning, after running the dishwasher overnight, we noticed a pool of water on the floor. We didn't think much of it (Assumed we spilt something while loading the dishwasher and mopped it up. A few days later, I was running the dishwashBlogger: Frigidaire Dishwasher Design Flaw - Create Poster and noticed that my feet were wet. I investigated further and saw water frothing out of the bottom of the dishwasher.

I immediately called up Frigidaire who wasted no time in giving me the number for a local service company. It took a few days for them to come out and take a look at it and a few weeks for them to order a replacement gasket/seal for the door (during which time I couldn't use the dishwasher). The warranty repair, although slow was relatively uneventful but I did learn a few important facts:

1) This leak happens regularly on this model of dishwasher. A few quick searches on google or store sites show that this has been an increasingly popular problem.
2) Frigidaire knew of this problem enough to create a service flash notice and issue a new, improved part.
3) Frigidaire did not actively reach out to existing customers to alert them to this issue. Apparently waiting for water to leak onto people's floors (and then have a dishwasher unusable for 2 weeks while the part is ordered) is acceptable customer service policy.
4) The service company spends much of their time fixing these issues.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Purchase Experience

Everyone knows not to walk onto a car dealership lot without a gameplan (unless you want to pay over the odds for a car you don't really want). Sadly I should have used the same rules when shopping at Best Buy in Hyannis, MA. My family went to the store in July 2008 with the goal in mind of purchasing a dehumidifier (Whole different set of issues, don't even ask... that might be my next post!). No real desire to purchase a dishwasher though we had been looking.

Everything changed when the store had a Nintendo Wii on the shelf waiting to be purchased. Now that was something we were looking for! We decided that we would do one of those 18 month purchases on our best buy card (We budget for our best buy purchases so that we can take advantage of the free financing). So we decided that now would be a good idea to replace our ailing dishwasher - the one that came with our 1992-built house. We had no clue what model we wanted - just that we wanted something with buttons out of the way of our toddler son.

Our mistake was to immediately track down a sales person and let him do the talking. We told him we wanted a dishwasher with hidden controls to match our other stainless steel appliances. He immediately told us that he would highly recommend the Frigidaire FDBB4365 model. We never pressed him on why he recommended it, though he did say that he was convinced it was one that needed very little servicing.

Another red flag should have been when the store employee insisted that we needed to have a kill-switch installed at the same time as the dishwasher. We said that we did not think one was required in our town for a residential unit but he insisted it was required. When the town inspector came he told us that we were right and the store employee was wrong that we just wasted $80 because our dishwasher was wired into its own single-use circuit-breaker and that switching a faulty dishwasher off at the circuit breaker was much better than reaching around under the sink right next to the dishwasher to find the kill-switch.

So - when buying a dishwasher do not let the following things sway your opinion:
  • Store employee recommendation.
  • The number of different models a particular brand has on display (More floor models does not equal better quality).
  • The store employees knowledge or lack-thereof of local building code.
  • The shinyness of the door.
  • Nintendo Wii availability at time of purchase.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Does your Frigidaire Dishwasher have a design flaw?


I bought a Frigidaire FDBB4365FC3 dishwasher from Best Buy in Hyannis, MA in July 2008. While my experiences have been nowhere near as bad as others, I figured that I might be able to help some consumers out by steering them away from certain Frigidaire dishwasher models in a reasoned and non-rant format.

As I have researched my dishwasher model online, I have become convinced that there is a serious design flaw in Frigidaire dishwashers with the plain no-buttons-on-the front models. The flaw (or flaws) result in a greater chance of leaks, steam damage to cabinetry and eventually steam damage to the dishwasher itself.

This blog (and in particular this entry) was created to bring awareness to this dishwasher and the poor design effort by Frigidaire.

Why am I doing this? Several reasons:

1) I don't want people to make a blind purchase choice like I did without doing some research on the model.
2) I want to see if I can find other people who have also experienced the same problems I am describing with similar Frigidaire dishwashers
3) Obviously, I'm trying to get the attention of somebody Frigidaire other than the friendly (but ultimately powerless) people in the consumer support department.

In the next couple of posts I'll cover: My purchase experience, leaks, customer service part 1, first signs of steam issues, circuitry failure, customer service part 2 and my research this month.

Feel free to leave comments about your experiences with Frigidaire dishwashers.